864.00/3–2147: Telegram

The Chief of the United States Representation on the Allied Control Commission for Hungary (Weems) to the Department of State 1


Z 4986. See our radio Z 4968.2 Second note to Soviet Chairman ACC delivered 1530 March 173 and US Minister released text to Hungarian press approximately 1730. Hungarian Government officials, including Prime Minister Nagy, Deputy Prime Ministers Rákosi and Szakasits,4 Foreign Minister Gyöngyössi,5 Minister of Information Mihalyfi,6 [Page 287] Béla Varga7 and Count Károlyi8 held immediate interparty conference after which they announced at 1930 that the Hungarian Government did not object to immediate publication of US note. Hungarian press was in process of arranging for publication when a Russian officer, Captain Gruber, contacted the Prime Minister’s office at 2000 hours with an oral order from “General Sviridov’s deputy” prohibiting publication. Hungarian press then declined to publish.

After some delay, I made arrangements to meet General Sviridov at 1500 March 18 in order to clarify the action of Russian Captain Gruber and to verify Soviet action in suppressing publication of second note. Summary of conference with Sviridov follows:

In answer to my statement of facts given above and request for clarification of Soviet action Sviridov stated that interparty conference was divided as to what should be done concerning publication and that press was divided as to whether to publish immediately. Sviridov stated that no one consulted him about publication as they should have done and therefore he contacted the Prime Minister through Captain Gruber and requested that the Prime Minister await publication of the US note until receipt of Soviet answer.9 Sviridov emphasized that this was a request, not an order. Prime Minister then stopped proposed publication by Hungarian press.

I pointed out seriousness of prohibiting publication in Hungary of official US note concerning Hungary which had already been released in Moscow, London and Washington.

Sviridov stated that there was no prohibition, only a request to delay for a day or two until both notes could be published.

I pointed out that there was prohibition from time of release to time of actual publication, and suggested that in cases of official releases the press be allowed to make their own decision as to whether they would publish or not.

Sviridov then stated that Hungarian press was under regulation of Soviet High Command as set out in Article 16 of armistice agreement10 and that he as representative of High Command had perfect right to regulate Hungarian press.

I stated it was my government’s view that Article 16 did not apply to the Allies. He answered that certain publications such as US Legation [Page 288] News Bulletin and some other periodicals were of no concern to him but that Hungarian press was subject to Soviet High Command regulation and source of news makes difference.

In closing I pointed out that US Government supports a free press and views with seriousness the distribution all over the world of the US note and its suppression in Hungary by Soviet action.11

  1. This message was also sent to the War and Navy Departments and to various military commands and officials in Europe concerned with developments in Hungary. The substance of the information contained in this message was reported upon in telegrams 446, March 18, and 448, March 19, from Budapest, neither printed (864.00/3–1847, 3–1947).
  2. Not printed. It reported upon the difficulties encountered in obtaining publication in Hungary of the American note of March 5 to the Hungarian Government (see footnote 1 to telegram 211, March 3, to Budapest, p. 273). The Soviet authorities on the Allied Control Commission denied they had given instructions to the Hungarian Government to withhold publication of the note, and Hungarian authorities insisted they had been given to understand by Soviet officials that publication should be withheld. The American note and the Soviet reply of March 8 were both released to the press in Hungary on March 8 (864.00/3–1047).
  3. Regarding the note under reference, see the editorial note, p. 285.
  4. Árpád Szakasits was Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party.
  5. Foreign Minister Gyöngy 5 is was in the leadership of the Smallholders Party.
  6. Ernö Mihályfi, a leader in the Smallholders Party, had been appointed Hungarian Minister of Information on March 14.
  7. President of the Hungarian National Assembly and Vice President of the Smallholders Party.
  8. Count Michael Károlyi, a Deputy in the Hungarian National Assembly, had served briefly as President of the Hungarian Republic in 1919 and had subsequently been in exile until his return to Hungary in June 1946.
  9. Supra.
  10. The reference here is to the Armistice Agreement between the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom, and Hungary, signed at Moscow on January 20, 1945; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 456.
  11. In telegrams 458 and 459, March 19, from Budapest, neither printed, Minister Schoenfeld proposed that a protest be sent to the Soviet Government on the matter of the withholding of publication of the American notes to the Hungarian Government. Telegram 307, March 25, to Budapest, not printed, replied to this proposal as follows:

    “While we agree Soviet action in delaying publication US notes Mar 5 and 17 arbitrary and without basis under Article 16 of Armistice, we consider that US attitude on matter has been made clear to Soviets by Gen Weems and that formal protest would tend confuse major political issue and is therefore inadvisable.” (864.00/3–1947)